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BEING DAD B 0 ND, JUST B 0 ND In the hands-on era of fatherhood, why are so many new dads still feeling ill-equipped to cope with the demands of bringing up their baby? The last decade has seen views on fatherhood change beyond all recognition. ‘Detached dads’ are a thing of the past as fathers demonstrate their increasing hands-on involvement within the family home. Despite this evolution, research* has found that for many new dads, the months before and after the birth are still a whirlwind of anxiety. Dads worry about whether they can become the parent they need to be, and even doubt their ability to step up alongside mum in the partnership. According to the study of 2,000 parents, amongst the permanent stresses were struggling to follow mum’s strict instructions, worrying about leaving the house alone with baby in tow and feeling completely overwhelmed with basic daily processes, that is until parenting confidence strikes around five months after the birth. Even with a greater enthusiasm for the role, it seems many new fathers still felt out of their depth while trying to perform crucial tasks. One in seven dads knew ‘almost nothing at all’ about parenting before the birth. They also felt least confident at tackling changing and bathing in the early days, while a fifth lacked confidence in the feeding process. These emotions put an even greater pressure on dads to develop a close relationship with their newborn. As parenting expert, Dr Miriam Stoppard, explains, the bond between dad and child is vital during the first few months: “A baby wants to bond with its dad just as much as its mum and early interaction with babies and toddlers is absolutely crucial to their development. A lack of contact between baby and dad FQ 33